In comparison to my first job in a Spanish organization, this volunteering position with ISLA is much more active and involved. As photographer, I visit the various classrooms during the day. Sometimes I participate in the activities so that the kids relax more when I take pictures. Even though taking pictures is the most important part of my job, it isn’t limited to this. I have the flexibility to help with the book exchange program and the welcoming of students and parents at the beginning of each day, and also get to know parents and students on a more intimate and personal level given that I don’t have to be in just one class during the day. I really get to see how ISLA operates as a whole.
For example, the first day I volunteered at ISLA in October there was a student in the sixth grade class there whose name was Ángel. La madre de Ángel, Guadalupe, stayed the whole day because she wanted to give a cultural presentation to the class for her son. She insisted that “I have to do this for my son.” But there was a big problem; she didn’t know how to use a computer to create a Powerpoint presentation. This is where I stepped in. After taking photos in the morning, I sat with Guadalupe with Chessa’s laptop and we searched for pictures of her hometown Zimapán Hidalgo, México. I saved the images and put them on a Powerpoint with captions. I only had to prepare eight slides for her, but the presentation she did was magnificent despite her saying she was super nervous for it. The students that normally have problems with paying attention in class were totally quiet and focused during the ten minutes in which she presented.
Afterwards, I took picture of Gaudalupe with her son and with the entire class to capture this special moment. This experience made me realize the importance of the heritage of each and every Spanish speaker, and the ways in which we it can be incorporated and preserved in their American lives and experiences.